Cleveland Orchestra Celebrates 100 years

Franz Welser-Möst and Andre Gremillet
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The Cleveland Orchestra recently announced some big plans for its 2017-2018 100th birthday season, including the performance of all nine Beethoven symphonies over the course of two weekends. 

The Orchestra is calling the Beethoven series The Prometheus Project, named after the mythological Greek hero who stole fire from the gods in order to enlighten mankind.  Music director Franz Welser-Möst says the legend of Prometheus is a good symbol for a season full of music that defied authority when it was written.

“Prometheus stands for Free Will,” says Welser-Möst.  “It’s that you can achieve what you want to do.”

He adds, that’s a theme for the Cleveland Orchestra’s educational outreach program this year, and it will be part of the Orchestra’s annual Martin Luther King Day concert in January.  Welser-Möst says many of the composers featured this year are people who stood up for their beliefs, and he suggests such qualities are needed in contemporary artists.

Andre Gremillet, the orchestra’s executive director, says the season will open with a concert for high school students also based on the Prometheus theme.  Gremillet says the orchestra is looking to nurture the next generation of concert-goers, which he admits is a challenge given all the competition for entertainment dollars.

“On any given night, about 20% of our audience is under 25,” he says.  “That’s something that’s been developed over many years.  And we’re very proud of that.”

In light of recent threats to arts funding, Welser-Möst says there needs to be more respect for the power of music - and an orchestra - that have stood the test of time.

“We shouldn’t believe that music, or the arts all together, is disconnected from everything else that is going on in the world,” he says.  “The arts have always been a very good seismograph.”

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